Inventor Lloyd Ray Profile

Dustpan and broom

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African American inventor Lloyd Ray (born in 1860) patented a new and useful improvement in dustpans.

Very little is known about the background and life of Lloyd Ray, but it is clear that he had the ability to think outside of the box to solve problems. In this case, the problem was twofold—cleaning became a very dirty activity if you had to toil away on your hands and knees, and also, it was difficult to manage and collect the actual dirt.

Building a Better Dustpan

The most important aspect of Ray’s design was that it solved both problems. The long handle made it a lot cleaner and simpler to clean, and the steel collection box meant that trash could be scooped up without the need to throw away garbage every few minutes.

Ray's dustpan received a patent on August 3, 1897. Unlike the original types of dustpans, Ray's industrial version added on a handle that allowed a person to sweep trash into the pan without dirtying their hands. The handle addition was made out of wood, while the collection plate on the dustpan was metal. Ray's patent for his dustpan was only the 165th patent to be issued in the United States.

Ray’s idea became a template for many other designs. It really hasn’t changed in nearly 130 years and is most notably the foundation for modern pooper scoopers, favored by pet owners the world over. 

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Bellis, Mary. "Inventor Lloyd Ray Profile." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Bellis, Mary. (2021, February 16). Inventor Lloyd Ray Profile. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "Inventor Lloyd Ray Profile." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 3, 2023).